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Challenging the Gender Binary: The Fictive and Real World of Quidditch

Despite the recent emergence of women and gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, intersexuals and transsexuals (GLBITs) in sport, gender equity has been far from realized. Dominant forms of sport are bimodal in gender classification, a construction that creates an ideology of male superiority and marginalizes women and GLBITs. One recent example of a sport that confronts traditional gendering is quidditch. In its fictional form, the competitive sport featured in the fantasy world of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and its real-worldform, muggle quidditch, the sport is gender inclusive. The purpose of this study was to consider the ways in which both quidditch and muggle quidditch challenge the dominant forms of institutionalized sport and present an alternative structure for gender participation and identification. I draw upon a literary analysis of Rowling’s portrayal of quidditch, relying in particular on Wolfgang Iser’s literary anthropology, as well as a qualitative analysis of the personal testimonies of muggle quidditch players.